Committee chair calls for govt to reverse brexit chemical plans

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The chair of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has called on the government to reverse plans to stop abiding by the European Union’s chemicals regulation, saying it will be costly.

The UK chemicals industry is “deeply concerned” about the government’s plans to leave the EU single market and customs union, Mary Creagh, Labour MP for Wakefield, said. In a House of Commons debate on EU chemicals regulation on 1 February, Creagh said the UK should remain part of the EU’s REACH regulation—which concerns the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals.

REACH applies to chemical substances produced or imported into the EU including those used in scientific experiments or chemical research. It enables the free movement of substances within the EU single market and promotes alternative methods for the hazard assessment of substances in order to reduce the number of tests on animals. The European Chemicals Agency oversees industry compliance with the regulation, but the UK is due to leave the agency after Brexit.

The government said in September 2017 that it would use the EU withdrawal bill, which it intends to pass by May, to replicate EU chemicals regulation in UK law when Brexit happens. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has also proposed establishing an agency to replace REACH in the UK.

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